Rome, Italy, June 9, 2012 – After hosting a majestic 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Championships last June, the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour returns to the Eternal City June 12-17 for the $600,000 smart Grand Slam Rome. The double-gender event will once again be held at the famed Foro Italico in the heart of Rome.
Adding luster is the fact that this is the final world tour qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The top 16 teams, with a minimum of 12 world tour events and a maximum of two teams per country, will qualify spots for their respective countries in the final Olympic field of 24 teams per gender.
At the top of the entry list for each gender will be the two Brazilian teams who won the 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Championships before standing room only crowds of over 10,000 for each gold medal match at the Foro Italico main stadium. The reigning kings are Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego while the defending queens of the world beach are Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca.
The fourth of a FIVB-record eight grand slam events, the smart Grand Slam Rome, the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour offers a total purse of $6.32 million in prize money and features 13 events for each gender, including the 2012 London Olympic Games. There are six single-gender events, three for each gender. The international beach volleyball circuit is visiting 16 sites in 15 countries including four of the five FIVB Confederations.
The official announcement of the 24 Olympic teams for each gender that will represent their respective countries will be made on July 9. With the host country (Great Britain) receiving an automatic spot in each gender’s field, five spots are being determined by Continental Cup competition within each FIVB confederation and the final two countries for each gender will be the top two finishers in each gender at the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Moscow, June 28-July 1.
Women’s play in the smart Grand Slam Rome will begin on June 12 with the gold medal match on June 16 and men’s action will start on June 13 and finish with their gold medal match on June 17.
The other medalists from last year’s FIVB SWATCH World Championships in Rome are expected to play in this year’s event as well, although one of the men’s teams has changed teammates.
After winning the silver medal in Rome as a team last year, Brazil’s Marcio Araujo and Ricardo Santos have different teammates this year, with Marcio playing with Pedro Salgado and Ricardo teaming with Pedro Cunha.
Last year’s men’s bronze medalists were Germany’s Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann.
The women’s silver and bronze medal teams from last year who are expected in Rome this year are USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang.
This year’s smart Grand Slam Rome will be the 11th women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in Italy and third straight in Rome and it will be the 18th men’s world tour event in Italy and fourth straight in Rome.
Besides Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, other event winners in Italy in this year’s field are Germany’s Brink/Reckermann (2009), Brazil’s Marcio (who won in 2007 with Fabio Magalhaes), Brazil’s Harley Marques (2008 with Pedro Salgado), Switzerland’s Patrick Heuscher (2006 with Stefan Kobel), Brazil’s Ricardo (2000 with Ze Marco de Melo) and Brazil’s Emanuel (who besides last year with Alison, won in 1999 with Jose Loiola and 1996 with Ze Marco).
On the women’s side, in addition to Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa (who also won in Italy in 2005 and 2006), other event winners in Italy who are expected here this year is USA’s Jennifer Kessy/April Ross (2010).
The first men’s event in Italy was 1989 in Jesi, while the first women’s was in 1997 in Pescara. Despite the long history of events for single genders the first double-gender event in Italy was the 2010 Rome Grand Slam.
With 40 total, Brazil has won the most medals overall in Italy (25 men and 15 women), followed by the United States with 17 (10 men, seven women), Germany with five (three men, two women), Argentina with four (all men), China with three (all women), Switzerland with three (all men), Norway with two (both men), and with one each Australia (women), Canada (men), Czech Republic (women), Greece (women), Italy (men), Russia (men) and Spain (men).
More information regarding this year’s smart Grand Slam Rome is available online at www.beachvolleyroma.com.